By Bill Ayers
On April 26 and 27 we joined thousands of people from around the country and around the world at the Peace and Justice Opening in Montgomery, Alabama. Days were filled with formal and informal gatherings, reunions and new connections, the Peace and Justice Summit featuring many powerful thinkers including Elizabeth Alexander, Jelani Cobb, Ava Duverany, and Michelle Alexander, and on the last night, the Concert for Peace and Justice. The focus of the gathering was the unveiling of two breathtaking new sites: the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the Legacy Museum, both projects of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).
By Zolo Agono Azania
I was introduced to Zolo Azania some twenty years ago through his artwork – striking portraits of Harriet Tubman, Malcom X and Emmet Till, artwork that reflected Zolo’s deep commitment to the Black freedom struggle – exhibited at the Autonomous Zone, a storefront operated by a small group of socially conscious anarchists in Chicago. I met Zolo shortly thereafter when a friend of mine, Elizabeth (Betty) Benson, a longtime activist then in her 80’s, asked me if I’d like to accompany her on a visit to death row at the Indiana state prison in Michigan City. Betty had already been visiting Zolo for several years, taking the South Shore Line from Chicago to Michigan City and then completing the mile or so journey to the prison on foot. On that first visit, I was struck by Zolo’s extraordinary resilience. Sitting across from me was a man with a quick smile and undying optimism, unbroken after fifteen years on death row. How did he manage that?
https://youtu.be/IGhlt5tt7AU Ta-Nehisi Coates dicusses how mass incarceration impacts the Black family and community.
By Monica Cosby
This past Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day, Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration, hosted an Incarcerated Mom’s Day Vigil and Toiletry Drive outside Cook County Jail. We’ve been doing this for 3 years running. As an organizer with Moms United who was formerly incarcerated, I know how necessary this is. Moms of all kinds, who are struggling to survive on the inside, need hope. And their families need help too. We live in a world that does too little to support incarcerated moms and women, yet criminalizes their survival. We don’t have enough support before, during and after release from prison.
By Thenjiwe McHarris, Movement for Black Lives
Contributing Editor’s Note by Dara Cooper
On April 4, the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the Movement for Black Lives [M4BL] launched Beyond the Moment: United Movements from April 4th to May Day, a campaign “to strengthen the fight for justice, freedom and the right to live fully, with dignity and respect for all people.” M4BL engaged a broad based, multi-cultural, multi-sector coalition known as “The Majority” to kick off a series of actions, teach-ins and events inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech between April 4 and May Day.
In his speech, Dr. King named racism, capitalism and militarism as the greatest harms challenging people to commit to the “fierce urgency of now.” As tens of thousands of protesters converged in Washington D.C. for the People’s Climate March to stand up against reactionary assaults on environmental justice by the current U.S. administration, Dr. King’s warning is more urgent now than ever. Because of the highly racialized effects of climate change, communities of color are the most devastated by our current climate conditions.
https://youtu.be/R_ljXU16wdQ This video from NowThis explores the connection between the Civil Rights Movement and Movement for Black Lives. How has the internet impacted the way people organize?
By Barbara Ransby | In These Times
50 years ago today, King blasted militarism, racism and poverty in his “Beyond Vietnam” speech. The new Beyond the Moment campaign carries forward his radical vision.
April 4 marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” speech. At a gathering in New York’s Riverside Church convened by the antiwar group Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam, he condemned war, U.S. imperialism, materialism, racism and the excesses of capitalism. Exactly one year later, King was assassinated on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
By Marquise Griffin
“Man, it is what it is.
You can’t understand a man
if you ain’t live what he lived.”
-Method Man “Bulletproof Love”
I have a vivid memory of being in the Chicago Union Amtrak station in 2014, waiting for my next train, while CNN footage of Eric Garner being choked to death by New York’s finest played on a loop on the TV screens. Until that point, I had managed to avoid seeing the video since part of me dies each time I see my brethren unjustly killed. I felt disgusted seeing the video, not only because I was not prepared to view it, but also because of the (non)reactions of the people around me. The ones staring at the screen looked impassive, unbothered by the repeated display of Garner surrounded by several officers, as the caption stated that Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who grabbed Garner by the neck, would not be indicted. It occurred to me that while video footage has provided undeniable proof of police violence against Black and Brown people, the public is nevertheless largely unsympathetic to our lived experiences. Repeatedly showing footage of police killing Black people seems to normalize police violence rather than challenging it. This demonstrates that it’s not enough to show that Black and Brown people are killed by police. Critical Race Theory emphasizes that racism has been invisibly normalized in society and asserts the importance of storytelling in order to provide a counter narrative to the dominant hegemony of White supremacy. It is in this context that Luke Cage, a Marvel Netflix original released last year, truly matters and excels.